US federal loans | University of Oxford
View down the high street
Looking down the High Street
(Image Credit: Ian McGregor / Graduate Photography Competition)

US federal loans

This guide provides information on applying for and managing a US federal loan as a new or continuing student.

When should I apply for my loan and how long will it take to process?

We begin processing loans for the new academic year in May. The loan approval process can take up to four weeks, or longer if there are difficulties with your application. It is your responsibility to ensure that a complete loan application is submitted in a timely manner.

To receive the first instalment of your loan in time for the first scheduled disbursement of Michaelmas Term 2019, your complete application must be received by 13 September 2019 at the latest in order to be processed in time.

Can I apply for my US federal loan mid-year?

You can apply for a loan during the academic year, however you must have submitted your application in time for us to process this and disburse the funds before the end of your academic year (eg June for undergraduates). There is a US Department of Education deadline for submitting your FAFSA, so you must ensure that this is also met.

Other funding options for US students?

Private loans

If you are interested in applying for a private US student loan, please see our private loans page.

US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) funding

The University is able to process applications for US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) funding (also known as the GI Bill or Post 9/11 Bill) and can complete and submit certificates of enrolment to the VA. Please refer to our US Department of Veterans Affairs funding page.

For information on other sources of funding including scholarships please visit the Fees and Funding pages of the Oxford Student's website.

Am I eligible for US federal loans?

You must meet the criteria set by the US Department of Education on the Federal Student Aid website in order to be eligible for US federal loans.

The federal loan eligibility criteria are subject to change at the US Department of Education's discretion and are beyond the University's control.  You should check the latest eligibility criteria on the Federal Student Aid website.

In addition to the criteria specified on the Federal Student Aid website, you must also:

  • be enrolled on at least a half-time basis for the duration of your Oxford course;
  • be studying an eligible, degree-bearing course;
  • make satisfactory academic progress during your course; and
  • with limited exceptions, undertake your study or research within the UK.

We can only approve loans for students who meet the criteria set by the US Department of Education.

More information about these criteria is provided below.

Enrolment

You must remain enrolled on at least a half-time basis for the duration of your Oxford course. We will only be able to request your loan funds from the US if you are enrolled a minimum of seven calendar days before each disbursement date. More information on enrolment is available on the Guide to registration page.

If there are any changes to your enrolment status, course or college you must email the US loans team immediately and read the Receiving your loan tab.

You cannot receive a US federal loan at Oxford if you are also enrolled and taking a federal loan at another institution.

Ineligible courses

There are restrictions on the University's ability to offer federal loan funds to students on certain courses. Students on ineligible courses may however be eligible for a private loan.

The following types of courses are not eligible for federal loans:

  • Any non-degree bearing course, eg undergraduate or graduate certificates and diplomas;
  • Courses which are less than half time;
  • Courses involving study in the US (with limited exceptions);
  • Courses involving distance learning, internships, placements and/or online elements;
  • Medical training courses; or
  • Summer school courses.

Please see related documents on this page for a list of courses which have been determined as non-standard for federal loan purposes and so may be ineligible. This is not an exhaustive list and the US loans team will assess whether your course is eligible when you submit your loan application.

Satisfactory academic progress (SAP)

The University's SAP policy applies to all students taking federal loans at Oxford, specifically Direct Subsidised, Direct Unsubsidised, Grad PLUS and Parent PLUS loans.

Full details of the SAP process, and the procedures to be followed if a student fails to meet SAP requirements, are outlined in the SAP policy (see related documents on this page).

Undertaking study or research outside of the UK

It is not normally possible for students in receipt of US loans to undertake any part of their study or research in the US. If you will be conducting doctoral-level research that can only be undertaken in the US, and are in the final stages of writing your thesis, please email the US loans team before applying for your loan so that we can assess your eligibility.

If you are taking part in a programme which involves study abroad, please email the US loans team immediately, as this may affect your eligibility for US federal loans. It is important that you contact us at the beginning of your course so that we can advise accordingly, even if you will not be completing study outside of Oxford until a future year of study.

What US federal loans can I borrow?

The type of loan and the amount you can borrow is dependent on whether you are a graduate or undergraduate student.

In addition to the below, you must complete the federal Cost of Attendance (COA) form to determine the amounts you are eligible to borrow in the relevant academic year. Your COA refers to the costs of completing your study at Oxford for one academic year.  The COAs for 2018-19 and 2019-20 are available on the How to apply tab.

Graduate Students

Loan Type

Direct Unsubsidised loan

Direct Graduate PLUS loan

Who is eligible

Most US citizens (or eligible non-citizens) on eligible graduate courses.*

Most US citizens (or eligible non-citizens) on eligible graduate courses.* A credit check is required.

Maximum federal loan amount per year 

$20,500

Total amount remaining after all other funding has been deducted from the COA.

Aggregate loan limit (how much you can borrow over your lifetime)

138,500 (no more than $65,500 of this may be Direct Subsidised loans).

No limit 

Origination and default fee 

1.062% for loans first disbursed on or after 1 October 2019 and before 1 October 2020.

1.062% for loans first disbursed on or after 1 October 2018 and before 1 October 2019.

4.248% for loans first disbursed on or after 1 October 2019 and before 1 October 2020.

4.248% for loans first disbursed on or after 1 October 2018 and before 1 October 2019.

Interest rate 

6.08% for loans first disbursed on or after 1 July 2019 and prior to 1 July 2020.

6.60% for loans first disbursed on or after 1 July 2018 and prior to 1 July 2019.

7.08% for loans first disbursed on or after 1 July 2019 and prior to July 2020.

7.60% for loans first disbursed on or after 1 July 2018 and prior to July 2019.

Undergraduate students

Before completing a federal loan application, you will need to determine whether you are a dependent or an independent undergraduate and this will establish which loan types and amounts you are eligible to borrow. Definitions on how to determine this can be found on the Federal Student Aid website, but if your circumstances are unusual and you need advice, please email the US loans team

Loan Type

Direct Subsidised loan and Direct Unsubsidised loan 

Parent PLUS loan

Who is eligible

Most US citizens (or eligible non-citizens) on eligible undergraduate courses.*

Available to dependent and independent students who demonstrate financial need.

Parents (biological, adoptive, or in some cases, stepparent) of dependent undergraduate students on eligible courses. Both the parent and the student must be eligible for federal student aid. A credit check is required.

Maximum federal loan amount per year 

Year 1
Dependent Undergraduate: $5,500 - no more than $3,500 can be Subsidised

Independent Undergraduate: $9,500 - no more than $3,500 can be Subsidised

Year 2

Dependent Undergraduate: $6,500 - no more than $4,500 can be Subsidised

Independent Undergraduate: $10,500 - no more than $4,500 can be Subsidised

Year 3 and up

Dependent Undergraduate: $7,500 - no more than $5,500 can be Subsidised

Independent Undergraduate: $12,500 - no more than $5,500 can be Subsidised

For dependent undergraduate students only. Total amount remaining after all other funding has been deducted from the COA.

Aggregate loan limit (how much you can borrow over your lifetime)

Dependent Undergraduate: $31,000 - no more than $23,000 Subsidised loans

Independent Undergraduate:$57,500 - no more than $23,000 Subsidised loans

None.

Origination and default fee 

1.062% for loans first disbursed on or after 1 October 2019 and before 1 October 2020.

1.062% for loans first disbursed on or after 1 October 2018 and before 1 October 2019.

4.248% for loans first disbursed on or after 1 October 2019 and before 1 October 2020.

4.248% for loans first disbursed on or after 1 October 2018 and before 1 October 2019.

Interest rate 

4.53% for loans first disbursed on or after 1 July 2019 and prior to 1 July 2020.

5.05% for loans first disbursed on or after 1 July 2018 and prior to 1 July 2019.

7.08% for loans first disbursed on or after 1 July 2019 and prior to 1 July 2020.

7.60% for loans first disbursed on or after 1 July 2018 and prior to 1 July 2019.

Origination fees, default fees and interest rates are subject to change. For the latest information on interest rates and fees, please see the Federal Student Aid website.

*Some courses are not eligible for federal loans. More information is available on the Eligibility tab.

US federal student loan application steps:

Please follow these steps to apply for a US federal loan for the 2018-19 or 2019-20 academic years.

We will only be able to start processing your loan once we receive your COA and all of the below steps are complete.

Step 1 - Make a note of your College Code

Your college code will be required to complete this process (see related documents on this page for a list of Oxford college school codes). If you have not yet been allocated a college place, please do not start your US loan application.

Step 2 - Complete your FAFSA

Please go to www.FAFSA.gov. You must do this every year you wish to take a federal loan.

Step 3 - Complete your PLUS loan application (if applicable)

If you are intending to apply for a PLUS loan (or your parent will be applying for a Parent PLUS loan), you (or your parent) will need to complete a PLUS loan application on StudentLoans.gov as linked below:-

Graduate PLUS loan application

Parent PLUS loan application

There is no separate loan application for Subsidised or Unsubsidised loan takers.

Step 4 - Complete your loan agreement (MPN) for each loan type

Please complete your loan agreement (MPNs) on StudentLoans.gov. As we are a foreign school, new MPNs must be completed every year of study you apply for a federal loan at Oxford. You must complete an MPN for each type of loan you are taking, for example:

  • Undergraduates:  complete an MPN for the Subsidised and Unsubsidised loans and, if applicable, your parent should complete a separate MPN for the Parent PLUS loan.
  • Graduates: complete up to two MPNs - one for the Unsubsidised loan and one for the Grad PLUS loan.

Step 5 - Complete entrance counselling

An applicant must complete entrance counselling for each loan type they are taking. The entrance counselling link on the StudentLoans.gov will fulfil counselling requirements for Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans and Direct PLUS Loans.

You do not need to complete this step if you have completed entrance counselling which covers all of the above loan types in a previous institution or year of study.

Step 6 - Complete Oxford’s Cost of Attendance (COA) form

Important things to note before completing your COA:

  • Make sure you have completed steps 1 to 4 above before starting your COA.
  • You cannot save the COA form and return to it later so we recommend reading through the form first and making sure you have all of the information to hand before you start to complete it.
  • At various point in the form you may be asked to upload supporting evidence, it is important to supply this to avoid delays to your loan being processed.
  • If you are an undergraduate you can confirm whether you are a 'dependent' or 'independent' student by consulting the Student Aid Report (SAR) generated by your FAFSA (see the How much tab for more information).
  • The COA contains a large amount of data and so please allow a few seconds for the form to open initially and when submitting wait for the confirmation screen before closing your browser window.     

To continue please select the relevant link below:

2019-20 COA forms

2018-19 COA forms

Undergraduate Dependent COA

Undergraduate Dependent COA

Undergraduate Independent COA

Undergraduate Independent COA

Graduate COA

Graduate COA

What next?

We will email you to either confirm that your loan application has been approved, or to clarify any queries regarding your application. 

Once approved on US systems, we will send you an award letter which will detail your loan amounts and disbursement information. The wording and format of the letter has been agreed with UK Visas and Immigration as acceptable proof of funding for visa applications. For further information on the visa process please visit the University’s visa and immigration pages. You may also find the before you arrive page helpful, which includes details of setting up a UK bank account.

How do I receive and manage my US federal loan?

Receiving your US federal loan

Payment of federal loans are made in equal termly instalments by bank transfer to your college. The US Department of Education stipulates that loans must be paid in equal instalments.

The payment dates are the dates your college will receive the funds, not the date that you will receive any funds remaining for living costs. Once your loan is approved by the US loans team, you will receive an award letter providing details of your disbursements. The main scheduled disbursement dates are in October, January and April each year.

You should ensure that you have sufficient funds from an alternative source to cover any costs until you receive your first payment. You must be enrolled before your funds can be requested from the US.

Although it is standard practice to invoice students for all fees at the beginning of the academic year, special dispensation is made for federal loan takers. Instead, your college will arrange for your fees to be paid in instalments that correlate with your US loan payments.

Within three working days of receiving the funds, your college will deduct a proportion for fees and battels (room and board). They will then pay the balance to you within 14 calendar days for living costs. For students on some courses, the central University and/or your department will perform these functions instead. Please note the US loan regulations require that colleges pay US loan funds to you within the specified time scales and colleges cannot hold funds on your student account beyond these.

Exchange rate

Your funds will be converted to £GBP on receipt and currency conversion costs will apply. Although the Cost of Attendance (COA) form uses a static exchange rate to calculate costs, the actual amount your college will receive for each payment will vary, as it will depend on the exchange rate on the date the funds are received.

Managing your US federal loan

Any changes to your loan must be requested by the date specified in the pre-payment email sent to you by the US loans team. This is normally at least two weeks before the next scheduled payment.

Increasing your loan

To increase your loan, email the US loans team stating the new gross $USD amounts you would like to borrow in the current academic year. We will return an updated version of your COA to you for your approval. Any approved additional funds will be spread across the remaining scheduled payments.

If you have an endorser on your PLUS loan, you can only increase the loan up to the endorsed amount, unless your endorser is willing to increase the endorsed amount.

If you are currently taking only a Subsidised and/or Unsubsidised loan but your increase includes a PLUS loan, you will need to complete a PLUS loan agreement (MPN), PLUS entrance counselling and a PLUS loan application. More information on this is on our How to apply tab.

Decrease your loan

To decrease your loan, email the US loans team stating the new gross $USD amounts you would like to borrow in the current academic year. The reduction will be spread across your remaining payments. You cannot decrease your loan below the amounts already released for each type of loan in the current academic year. 

Cancel your loan

We will email you prior to each payment with the deadline for cancelling/returning loan funds through the University. To cancel your loan you must notify us by the specified deadline, as well as informing your college of your requested cancellation. You may need to pay fees and bank charges associated with returning any funds if payment has already been requested from the US.

If you would like to cancel your federal loan and the deadline for doing so through the University has passed, you can make a repayment directly to your lender, details of which can be found on the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS). If you make a repayment within 120 days of the loan payment date, your lender may be able to treat this as a partial or full cancellation with the appropriate adjustment of the loan fee and interest.

Changes affecting your loan

You must contact us if any of the below occur or may occur. Contact us immediately and in advance of the change where possible.

  • Other funding received: If you are provided with a financial award your COA will be adjusted accordingly. This may change the amounts you are able to borrow.
  • Change of college: Your loan will be transferred to new records on Oxford and US systems. We will be unable to release funds unless your record is against the correct college.
  • Change of course: We will reassess your eligibility and amend your COA, which could change the amounts you are able to borrow.
  • Change of mode of study: If you change from full- to part-time study or vice versa, we will reassess your eligibility and amend your COA, which could change the amounts you are able to borrow.
  • Change of location of study: If you change where you are living during the academic year (except vacations) we will reassess your eligibility. More information can be found on our Eligibility tab.
  • Change or potential change in enrolment status: You must contact us immediately if you are considering changing enrolment status, so that we can prevent your payment being released if this has not already been done. We are required to report any enrolment changes within tight timescales and potentially complete a Return to Title IV (R2T4) calculation, which can lead to ‘unearned’ funds being returned to the US Department of Education (see related documents on this page for the full R2T4 policy). Please contact us with any questions as we can provide information tailored to your individual circumstances. The requirements for Title IV program funds when you change status are separate from the University's refund policy, therefore you should also discuss any enrolment change with your college and department.
  • Return to study from a suspension: You need to complete a loan application for the year in which you will be returning to study, should you wish to borrow funds for this period. Information on applying is on our How to apply tab. It is advisable to submit your application prior to the term you are due to return, for example in November if you are returning in Hilary.

How do I repay or defer my loan?

Repaying your US federal loan

This is arranged directly through your loan servicer, who can be found on the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS). Keep in contact with your loan servicer to ensure you are up-to-date with loan repayment information. You must notify them of:

  • Anything that affects your ability to repay your loan;
  • Any changes in your status, including course completion or if you do not enrol for the period covered by your loan; and
  • Any changes to your personal details, such as name, address, phone number.

Your student loan must be repaid and you risk going into default if you do not make repayments as required by your loan servicer. Federal Student Aid offers guidance on understanding default.

Loan type

How do repayments work?

When do repayments start?

Direct Subsidised

No interest or payments required as long as you are enrolled on an eligible course at least half-time.

Usually six months (known as the 'grace period') after your course finishes or you become less than half-time.

Direct Unsubsidised

No payments required as long as you are enrolled on an eligible course at least half-time. Interest accrues whilst you are studying.

Usually six months (known as the 'grace period') after your course finishes or you become less than half-time.

Graduate PLUS or Parent PLUS

No payments required as long as the student is enrolled on an eligible course at least half-time. Interest accrues whilst studying.

Repayment period begins on the date of the final disbursement. Unless you receive a deferment or forbearance, the first payment will be due within 60 days of the final disbursement date.

You may also find the Your Federal Student Loans guide and the Federal Student Aid website useful. Information on making an early repayment to your loan servicer can be found on our Receiving your loan tab.

Deferring your US federal loan

Current loan takers

If you are taking US federal loans at Oxford in the current academic year, we will automatically report your enrolment on NSLDS so that repayment of previous US student loans can be deferred.

Non-loan takers

If you are not taking US federal loans in the current academic year, please complete the NSLDS deferment request form if you would like the US loans team to report your enrolment on NSLDS. If you are a new student you will be unable to complete this form until you have been provided with your Single Sign On (SSO) account details by Oxford, and you must be showing as enrolled on the student system before we can add you to NSLDS.

Federal loan servicers are required by federal law to use NSLDS and enrolment information is sent to them on a weekly basis. NSLDS is also accessed by the US Department of Education to obtain student enrolment information. Your NSLDS record will be updated and checked every two months.

If you have previously borrowed a loan through a private lender who does not use NSLDS and would like us to complete a paper form so you can defer these, please email us with a copy of the required form, ensuring you have first completed any sections to be filled out by the borrower.